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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Yesterday I got my first look at the new front page publishing system I mentioned in this post over the weekend. It’s an amazing feat of coding skill, both from a technical perspective as well from a journalistic and aesthetic one. That pride and excitement is mainly an internal matter for our team. Most of you are rightly concerned not with the inner workings of the machine but the final product. But what really excites me about bringing this online is that I believe it will greatly enhance our ability to bring you the news, to do what we do.

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As the Manafort trial continues and Rick Gates prepares to testify, I wanted to flag some key connections, transfers of money and more that we should keep in mind with respect Manafort, Rick Gates and their common patron, the private equity and real estate mogul Tom Barrack.

We’ve discussed Barrack before. He’s that rare Trump confidante who seems actually to have earned his money more or less legitimately and be a seriously successful businessman in a way that Trump never was. He was a major surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail. He’s still apparently a confidante.

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I struggle with how much we should delve into these rabbit holes. They are to a real extent simply conflagrations whipped up to serve the distraction interests of the White House. But this seems worth listening to and preserving. CNN’s Jim Acosta presses Sarah Sanders to agree that the press is not the “enemy of the people.” She responds with an anti-press tirade.

Video after the jump.

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Head of all US intelligence says he’s not sure what happened in Helsinki.

From a former federal public corruption prosecutor …

I call BS on this [New York Times] story about Trump fighting against the advice of his lawyers to go ahead with an interview with the Special Counsel. It is truly laughable and I question the NYT’s judgment here in biting on this story hook, line and sinker. This is like the guy who picks a fight with the toughest kid on the playground, but tells his friends to make sure to act like they’re holding him back. Every criminal defense lawyer with a client that is going to assert the 5th and not agree to an interview says, “my client desperately wants to tell the government everything he knows, but I’m not going to let him go in.” Rudy is pretending to be the guy standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square trying to stop Trump from testifying. This is all a show. Rudy just doesn’t want to say that the President of the United States is going to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Do we remember that Mike Pence was Paul Manafort’s choice for Veep? Trump was set on Chris Christie and didn’t seem terribly comfortable with Pence. But Manafort was dead set on it and even resorted to tricking Trump about mechanical problems on his plane to keep Trump in Indianapolis to seal the deal with Pence.

From a 2016 report from CBS …

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Seems very clear that Jim Jordan pressured his his ex-boss, former head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson to get his accusers to recant. This is hardly surprising since Jordan is orchestrating a far-ranging cover up of his lies and role in the original case. He even has a website attacking his accusers and a full time conservative PR firm helping him manage the cover up. One of the accusers says Hellickson told him, “I will defend Jimmy until I have to put my hand on a Bible and be asked to tell the truth, then Jimmy will be on his own.”

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This afternoon ABC published a story which purports to explain what was going on in the background (as I speculated here) that made President Trump dramatically up the ante in his push to end the Mueller investigation. According to ABC, within the last day President Trump had learned that Mueller had agreed to limit the scope of the questions he would ask Trump in an investigatory interview but would focus his questions on obstruction of justice.

I don’t buy this.

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People are either surprised, incredulous or laughing about President Trump defending his former campaign manager Paul Manafort by comparing him to the notorious gangland killer Al Capone. They shouldn’t. To Trump, Capone was a winner. He was rich. Everybody gave him respect. But he was brought down on BS charges, mundane financial crimes. He was treated very unfairly, to use the President’s signature phrase. This isn’t hyperbole or a mere attack. Over a forty-plus year career, Trump was deep in business with some of the most notorious and violent mobsters of the late 20th century. Trump managed not to get in to trouble first because he had the right friends but just as much because he kept the relationships largely passive. He laundered their money. His main overt act was willful obliviousness. Trump Tower itself was a notorious haven for all sorts of organized crime figures, mostly from other countries. Mostly from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

If you want to learn more about this I strongly recommend reading Seth Hettena’s Trump/Russia: A Definitive History. As the title suggests it’s mainly about the backstory of the Trump’s relationship with Russia. But that story is inseparable from his ties to organized crime. If you want to hear more before buying it you can listen to my conversation with the author here.

It’s easy to see President Trump’s tweet today, which says Jeff Sessions should fire Bob Mueller, as yet more of the cacophony of mania and aggression that spews forth from his Twitter account daily like water flowing over a waterfall. But I fear that may not be the case. President Trump has criticized Jeff Sessions many times. His anger at him is notorious. But I don’t think he has ever so clearly in public told Sessions to fire Mueller or given him such a specific “cause” for doing so. I do not think this is an accident or a random escalation. 

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